OUCH! OUCH! OUCH! It's a fab gear interview with RUTLES drummer BARRY WOM!

While up in East Anglia grilling JOHN HALSEY, Cyke and I noticed that the hair salon just down the street, one of the famous 'Hair By Wom' chain, was attracting a lot of attention. Closer inspection led us to discover that this was due to the presence of the owner of that most stylish of coiffeur emporia, erstwhile Rutle Barry Wom. Apparently Barry was in town to open the new manicurist training school attached to that particular branch of 'Hair By Wom'. We asked Monsieur Wom if he'd allow us a few minutes for an interview, and to our dismay he happily agreed. This is it:

PT: Nice to meet you, Barry.

BW: It must be. Everybody says that 'cos I'm so rich.

If we go back to the start of The Rutles, I've read that you got the gig after they found you hiding in their van?

Yeah, that's right. rutle #3

Why were you hiding in their van?

Yeah, well I'd lost some kippers. I thought they might be in there, you know, just beside the engine. 'Cos those old Bedford vans had the engines inside, between the driver and the front seat passenger, like, and they got very hot, so you could cook kippers on them. I was just looking for me kippers.

And they found you there?

Yeah, they got in the van while I was looking for me kippers, and I noticed they had some empty drum cases in the back, so I got into the bass drum case.

Fortunately you were a good drummer.

Well, me Mum thought I was. My Mum thought I was great.

After your stint in Hamburg...

At The Rat Keller.

... you returned to Liverpool and started really making it at the Cavern Club.

Yeah, the owner of the Cavern really wanted us to play there.


Because Ron (Nasty) was holding his head under water at the time.

What was it like there?

What? Under water?

No, at The Cavern. rutle #6

Oh, great. We played there a lot and they really liked us. I think it was the trousers which were very, very tight. Nothing left to the imagination.

Which attracted the attention of your manager.

Yeah, Leggy (Mountbatten) liked them, but so did the judies. Oh ho ho, the judies! They liked the trousers too. You know, we used to stick black pudding down the legs?

Then you got a recording contract.

That's not a question, is it?

I suppose not.

Well, Leggy took our tapes and photographs to all the recording companies in London. None of them were interested, until the very last one, and that was Parlourphone. A chap there called Archie Macaw really liked the trousers, and he signed us up.

And you did your first album.

That's not a question either. Yeah, we did a few Chuck Berry numbers and some Nasty/McQuickly songs.

And then you conquered America.

Yeah, you're right. We introduced conkers to America. Before that they only had skateboards. They've got wrestling now, but then it was just skateboards, and we came over with our pet conkers. We had them in special little boxes, and we taught the Americans how to play conkers.

So that was the secret of your success?

Yeah, that was the start of something really small. First we played conkers, and we ended up playing the Ché Stadium.

You also played the Ed Sullivan Show, I believe?

Ed Sullivan, yeah, that's right. She was very nice, a lovely lady.

You made some feature films, 'A Hard Days Rut' and 'Ouch!' were very successful.

rutle #4 'Ouch' was great fun. We were all trying to be Spike Milligan, and ended up being Charlie Drake! He's a little shit is Charlie Drake!

I've read somewhere that you spent a year in bed as a tax dodge?

Yeah, I had to get up after a year, I was busting to go to the toilet. But it was a good year, that. I enjoyed it, but it was very tiring. Very tiring.

Was it a successful tax dodge?

Are you kidding? And some! I saved enough to lend Stig (O'Hara) some money when he got sued for not writing 'He's So Fine'.

What about the notorious tea-drinking week-ends in Bognor with Arthur Sultan?

Right, the Surrey Mystic. Well, we all got into tea, you know. It shocked a lot of people, but why not? People still take it now, don't they? They take Ecstastea.

We've just had some tea now.

Well, behind closed doors and drawn curtains we still have the occasional cup. You're the first person I've seen taking it up the nose, though.

I find that tea bags tend to get stuck, but this loose leaf stuff...

Yeah, we all took tea. And after Timothy Leary, we even tried Horlicks!

Was this in Bognor?


And what became of Arthur Sultan?

I think he's got a shoe shop. Freeman Hardy Sultan, you've probably heard of it.

Oh! He's that Sultan! I never realised. How about the 'Sgt. Rutter' album?
rutle #2

Ah, 'Sgt. Rutter', that's a great record. Dirk (McQuickly) and Ron got really experimental, using all kinds of instruments and effects. They made Stig play his guitar inside a dustbin. I had to play me drums with cucumbers instead of sticks, then they re-recorded it backwards, slowed it down a bit and wiped it off the tape. Great!

Then you formed your own label, opened a boutique...

Yeah, Rutle Corps. That was mostly Dirk and Ron's project, but me and Stig, we came up with the banana idea. They kind of liked that, 'cos Ron had heard you could get high from smoking bananas. Later, of course, Dirk got arrested in Japan when they found a bunch of bananas in his luggage. Stupid git! He didn't even try to hide them. Customs just opened his bag, and there they were, right on top!

What caused the downfall of The Rutles?

Women. Just women. They split up the Rutles, just women.

Any particular women?

No, just women.

Obviously Ron Nasty's murder must have hit you hard.

Not as hard as it hit him.

And finally, the question you must have been asked a thousand times: will the remaining three Rutles ever play together again?

Well, me hairdressing shops are shut on Tuesday afternoons and all day Sunday, so if something cropped up that coincided with that, I don't see why not.

So Stig and Dirk would be up for it?

Well, Stig works for an airline now, so if he was in England, and it was a Tuesday afternoon, he might be into it. Dirk would probably do it, but someone would have to put it all together.

Well, Barry, thanks very much. it's been a pleasure.

Everyone says that.

That's because it's such a pleasure.

Yeah.rutle #5

Written, produced and directed by Nick Saloman, based on an interview with Barry Wom, former Rutle, September 1992.

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